February 27, 2021


Why is atheism no longer cool?: How the New Atheists failed to make God go away (Rev Steve Morris, 27 February, 2021, The Crisis)

Throughout 2006-7 the New Atheism, as coined by Gary Wolf in Wired Magazine, began to ruffle feathers. The ideas of New Atheists weren't really that new, but what they had was a tetchy, rude and frankly insulting way of attacking the enemy. Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens made a boisterous case that believing in God was irrational, and because it was irrational it led people to do irrational things - like fly aeroplanes into skyscrapers.

Some of the points the New Atheists made were well made. For instance, Sam Harris argued that theists don't understand probability - that they attribute things to God that were likely to happen anyway. It is a good point, isn't it? God doesn't need magical thinking on our part. As an ex-atheist, I have a lot of respect for those who still think as I thought. I think that the pungent criticisms of the New Atheists were right to be aired - even if the style of it was rather childish.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, as they called themselves, didn't play fair - but that was the point. McGrath told me, "Looking back at that time and that talk I gave I still feel annoyed by the way Dawkins and others pitched their argument. They basically said that there was no scientific proof for belief in God and that no sensible person could disagree. But they never subjected their own beliefs to the same criteria."

Of course, the argument goes both ways - we too need to interrogate the basis of our faith, to ask difficult questions and perhaps be prepared to change our worldview every time we sincerely debate with someone of no faith.

what was fatal is that the criteria they could not withstand applied only to them, undermining their beliefs in their entirety. 

Posted by at February 27, 2021 7:27 AM